Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

4 Jan

Let’s kick my Walt Disney World Resort series off with Hollywood Studios. I know, its a strange one to start with, right? Well, last I heard, this is the park that my sister and my niece plan on visiting first when they arrive tomorrow because its the last day for the Osborne Spectacle of Lights (if you plan on going to Disney around Christmas, this is a must!) and Beauty and the Beast live on stage will not be performing after tomorrow, and its my sister’s favorite Disney movie. Ever. So, lets get on with the magic!

When you enter the park, you enter right on Hollywood Boulevard. You may meet some celebrities or even become one yourself! If you consider straight on Hollywood Boulevard, you may see the tip of Sorcerer Mickey’s hat, which they have recently blocked with a stage (its quite depressing actually, the hat is gorgeous and it use to be lovely to see when you first walked in). Under the hat is a little shop, selling mostly ear hats and pins. Directly behind the hat is The Great Movie Ride. If you’ve never done it, its worth a trip through, but I wouldn’t say its a “must do”. You ride a small vehicle through, yes through, the movies. You never know who you might meet from these movies while you’re on the trip, either, but be warned, they may not be the heroes of the movies.

To the left of Hollywood Boulevard is Echo Lake, where you can find The American Idol Experience, the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, and Star Tours. I have never seen The American Idol Experience, but when I was there with my high school marching band four long years ago, I heard it was a neat show if you’re a fan of American Idol. I also have never been to Star Tours, as there aren’t any Star Wars fans in my family.
The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular is actually really interesting to see, but the show hasn’t changed much over the past few years, so its another one that if you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it. I would highly suggest getting there early, though, because it fills up fast and standing room only isn’t fun to try to lean around everyone’s heads to see. What is the show exactly? Its giving you some behind the scenes look at how they perform stunts in shows and movies, like Indiana Jones. Lots of action. I wouldn’t suggest bringing young children, though, because it can be very noisy.

If you go behind Echo Lake, you find the Streets of America, where the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights takes place during the Christmas season. As I said earlier in this post, its definitely a must-see if you’ll be there when its up! There’s also Muppet Vision 3D, which is the first 3D show I ever went to. Its another one I wouldn’t suggest taking small children to, because I was about six when I saw it and I definitely did not like it. Then again, 3D is very common these days, so it may not be as scary to younger kids anymore. There’s also the Lights, Motors, Actions Extreme Stunt Show, which is worth seeing. This stunt is all about how they do car chases and vehicular stunts – again, lots of action, and definitely some humor. I would say its one of the best stunt shows I’ve ever personally seen; I saw it for the first time four years ago and saw it again this year. They have changed it up a bit (how about a visit from Lightning McQueen?!) and its a good place to rest your feet for a bit if you’ve been walking all day. The arena is huge, but it does fill up – its a very popular stunt show. Also, be sure to check the times! This isn’t a continuous show. The Studio Backlot Tour is also in the Streets of America, and its honestly a neat tour. Be careful, though, you can get wet in one part of the tour. If its a chilly day in Orlando, you may want to skip it…or not be the first person in your row to enter the car. Interested in seeing Walt Disney’s private jet, or some old movie props? Go for a spin on the Backlot Tour. The wait typically isn’t very long for it, and there’s a humorous beginning where they take volunteers from the audience and put them in their own short.  I’ve heard they recently changed this tour, but from what I understand it wasn’t a significant change. I know I haven’t been talking about any places to eat, because I figure that all depends on your taste of food, your budget, and the Disney dining plan if you decide to go with that, but if you’re a Toy Story fan, the Pizza Planet Arcade is on the Streets of America. Its about $10 for a personal sized pizza, a small caesar salad, and a drink, but the pizza is delicious and, again, if you’re a Toy Story fan, what better place to eat?

On the opposite side of the park, there are three smaller areas in one large area – Pixar Place, Mickey Avenue, and Animation Courtyard. In Pixar Place is the awesome Toy Story Midway Mania. I have a major tip for this attraction! Get to Hollywood Studios early, and head straight to Midway Mania to get fast passes. We got to Hollywood around 10 am and our fast passes were for 6:00 that evening. They go quick, and the wait is typically over 120 minutes. It is well worth the wait, especially if your trip lasts more than three days. If you get to Midway Mania early enough, you may be lucky enough to get a 45 minute wait or under, take it! It’ll be the shortest line you see, even during evening extra magic hours. This attraction is a ride and a game all in one. Your wait involves going through what looks like a play room, with giant Crayola crayons and all sorts of board games. When you finally get to the ride itself, you’re in a two person car and you “shoot” different targets – paint at Woody and his friends to practice, darts at balloons, baseballs at plates and so forth. The goal? Get the most points in your car, of course! Or, if you’re lucky, the most points of the week, or even the month. It seems childlike, but I have, all three times we finally got to ride it, seen adults without children riding the ride. One time, there was a couple probably in their mid thirties, and they started shooting at my mother and myself, laughing the whole time. This is definitely not just a kids attraction.

On Mickey Avenue, you find The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow, which I was significantly disappointed in. It has nothing to do with the actual legend of Captain Sparrow; you simply “help” Jack fend off another attack on The Pearl. The decorations are impressive, however. If you decide to do it, just look at all of the details! Its not a ride, just an attraction. I wouldn’t wait more than say, twenty minutes, for this attraction. There’s also One Man’s Dream on Mickey Avenue, which we did not get a chance to do this trip to Disney. Looking at the map, it describes this attraction as “an exhibition of historical items celebrating Walt’s life” and Walt was quite an intelligent man, I think it could definitely be worth a visit.

If you continue heading down this area, you’ll come across the Animation Courtyard, which is definitely a place to go! Disney Junior Live on Stage is back here, but it is not the only attraction. When I did this, Bear in the Big Blue House was the live show. I’d say its worth a visit if you’re bringing toddlers. The Voyage of the Little Mermaid is also in Animation Courtyard. Its also a live show, where The Little Mermaid is acted out on stage. The sea creatures are illuminated under a black light, the actors dressed in all black. Its an awesome show, especially for any Ariel fans. My favorite part of Animation Courtyard? The Magic of Disney Animation. This is like its on little subsection of Animation Courtyard; back in this section you can see a video on how animated characters come to life, starring Mushu from Mulan. Its a hilarious little short, definitely worth a visit. You also get a sneak peek at some of their newest characters. Last time, we saw the characters from Brother Bear, and this time, it was the characters from Wreck It Ralph. There’s also a drawing class in here – do not pass this up! Sure, the line looks long, and its either a fifteen minute or half hour long class, but its awesome. My parents and I actually went back to this four times and drew Agent P from Phineas and Ferb, Jiminy Cricket, Goofy, and Donald. I’m no artist, and I don’t like blowing my own horn, but my Jiminy was pretty dead on. Be sure to brush up on your Disney trivia – one lucky person in the class gets to take the artist’s signed copy home! You can also get to see some artists’ work spaces and see them draw, as well as meet a variety of characters back here, from Sorcerer Mickey, to Disney’s newest characters. Wreck it Ralph and The Incredibles were visiting when we were there.

Home to attractions like the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and the Hollywood Tower of Terror, I would have to consider Sunset Boulevard the most thrilling part of Hollywood Studios. Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage is also back in Sunset Boulevard. Like all of the live on stage shows, it is an extremely short version of the movie, but its very, very well done – a must see for any Beauty and the Beast fan. Not a fan? Already seen the show? Save your time and continue on to the other attractions. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, starring Aerosmith, is probably my favorite ride in Hollywood Studios. Who doesn’t want to take a limo ride to an Aerosmith concert where you happen to have backstage passes, given to you from the band themselves? And where else can you go from 0-60 in three seconds and have the first part of the roller coaster be a loop…without a hill leading into it? Now, I am no extreme roller coaster junkie; I actually don’t like extreme rides, but I love this ride. There is a height restriction for this ride, so small children won’t be able to do it, but Disney had a child-swap deal, where parents can wait in line together, one waits with the kid while the other rides, and when the first rider returns, they swap roles. I would have really liked to ride this more than once, but we just ran out of time with everything else we did. Hollywood Tower of Terror is by the Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster, and I wouldn’t consider this one of my favorites, but I know others who don’t consider it a trip to Disney without a ride on it. The line through it is actually really neat – its set up to specifically look like an old, haunted hotel. The drop is definitely not for everyone, but you don’t drop every single story at once – you drop a few, then go back up, and drop more, and it repeats. For the last attraction in Hollywood Studios, we have the nighttime spectacular, Fantasmic. This is definitely a show I’d skip with many young children, though the young girl who sat behind us this time loved it. It isn’t as good as it use to be, but it is still a good show. The Disney Villians decide to take over Mickey’s dream and turn it into a nightmare. Mickey then finds a way to defeat them and get his dream back. It went from a stage show with a few clips on water, to lots of clips on water with a little bit of a stage show, but its definitely a unique show, even if Sorcerer Mickey is only in it for a grand total of two minutes anymore. I’d still consider this a must-do, though, every time you visit the park. Be sure to get in line early for this! Its an incredibly popular show and the stadium, though huge, does fill up.

On the way out of the park, especially if you’re leaving from Fantasmic, there’s a Villians shop that has a bakery in it…drop by! Their carrot cake cookies are absolutely heavenly, and they have excellent oatmeal raisin cookies, on top of other delicious goodies. Disney is sure to spoil you with their delicious desserts.

I hope you enjoyed this not so brief overview of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and come back soon to see the next segment in my Walt Disney World Resort series!

Goodbye, 2012

31 Dec

In honor of the new year, I decided that I would reflect back on 2012 and come up with twelve awesome things that I did in this pastyear.

  1. I had my first, full time, all summer job. And I was asked to come back next summer!
  2. I renewed my American Quarter Horse Association membership and joined their RIDE program. Log hours, get prizes. It’s like showing, but you don’t have to leave the trail!
  3. I visited the Outer Banks for the first time and got involved with the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. Awesome fund for an awesome cause.
  4. I learned how to knit! Yes, I consider this awesome. I learned about three months ago, and I’m completely hooked.
  5. I spent Christmas at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida with my parents. That was pretty awesome.
  6. I had an awesome fall semester – a B in comparative vertebrate anatomy? I’ll take it!
  7. I kept a memory jar this year. While I forgot to bring it home to add more to, and to dump it out this evening to look over everything I did this year, it was really neat to see it fill up and be able to just glance through what I did and remember the little things.
  8. Mom (re)taught me to make Potato Candy! If you haven’t tried it, it’s really fun and it only takes one small potato, two pounds of powdered sugar, and peanut butter.
  9. I downloaded Adobe Photoshop again and I’ve been working on some awesome edits. It might not be much, but I do pride myself in my graphic design.
  10. I’ve become more comfortable with “who I am”. I think that’s a good thing, yes?
  11. This may seem silly, but I bought Christmas presents with my own money this year. Sure, I did it over the summer when I had money from my summer job coming it, but I did it. I’m quite proud of that.
  12. I turned 21. I think that’s a big accomplishment.

Thirteen New Years Resolutions

  1. Ride my horse more! The only rides you regret are the ones you miss. Sure, I’m not home a lot, but I want to make the most out of every moment I’m at the barn. Four to five times a week, please.
  2. Get healthy. No, I don’t want to lose x amount of pounds, but I want to eat a balanced, healthy diet, and cut out a lot of pop. I’m going to be out in the “real world” soon, and I don’t see getting healthy hurting me any.
  3. Learn to cable stitch for my knitting. I can do a lot with cable stitching!
  4. On the same subject, I’d like to knit an afghan.
  5. Get a 3.0 this upcoming semester. With microbiology, parisitology, chemistry II, and research design and statistics II, this is going to be an interesting semester.
  6. Do more photography. I haven’t done much lately, and I want to do more.
  7. Study for the VCAT/MCAT and GRE. I have the books, I just need to actually read them.
  8. Spend less time on the computer. That seems to be my biggest habit…
  9. Procrastinate less. On everything.
  10. Finish my community service hours. I need so many to graduate, and I’d like to finish those up this summer.
  11. Support local shops (instead of chains) as much as possible.
  12. Stay organized for class! I can usually do this for, oh, six weeks, and come finals I’m a mess. I’d like to stay organized so finals aren’t so stressful.
  13. Unplug cords I’m not using, shut off the lights when I’m not in the room, and so forth. Save the planet a little at a time!

What have you accomplished this past year? What are your resolutions?

For the past week, I have been at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

31 Dec

Interested in planning a trip, or do you already have a trip reserved? Keep reading! Over the next week, I will go in depth about each park, talking about my favorite attractions and shows, and explaining why some attractions did not make my “let’s do that again” list.

Leaving before the end of the week? Here’s my top three for each park.

Magic Kingdom

  • The Magic Kingdom Mountain Range – Space, Splash, and Thunder Mountain. Only have time for one? Go for Thunder Mountain in Frontier Land.
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Its not a trip to Disney without a ride on this classic.
  • The Mad Tea Party. Again, its a classic. See how fast you can get them to spin!

Epcot

  • Test Track. Disney joined with Chevrolet, and spiced up this ride with a little design-your-own-car magic and on the ride,  you do “test” the car, and you see how your car ranks along with the others in your group. Really neat!
  • Soarin’ – I’ve been waiting years to get on this ride, and yes, it is awesome. You don’t move much at all, but the sensation IS like you are truly flying. I have been nauseated on some rides like this in the past, but this one wasn’t a problem.
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends. Why? The ride lets out in a giant aquarium, where you’ve got to catch Turtle Talk with Crush, whether or not you have kids. It’s quite funny to hear some of the things that the kids come up with to ask him.

Hollywood Studios

  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster! This is probably my favorite roller coaster of all time. Featuring Aerosmith, it’s quite the rockin’ ride. Have you ever hit a loop from the bottom before? This coaster goes from 0-60 mph in under three seconds, and the first thing you hit is a loop.
  • Toy Story Midway Mania. Okay, this ride has been there for at least four years, but this has been the first time we have been able to do it due to a two hour plus wait time. Is it worth the wait? If you’re going for three days, probably not, but if you’re going for five or more, yes!!! It’s an absolute blast.
  • Fantasmic. While this night time show isn’t what it once was, it is definitely worth catching!

Animal Kingdom

  • Expedition Everest. Are you up for a thrilling ride through Mount Everest? It’s quite the adventure, and you’re in for quite a surprise when the Yeti destroys your track.
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris. Not just for animal lovers, this is a wonderful trek through the Kilimanjaro reserve to see their protect animals. There was a baby rhino when we were there! Our guide pointed out a hidden Donald Duck on the lion’s rocks. Ask your guide if s/he knows about it.
  • Finding Nemo: The Musical. Definitely unique, it’s a super cute show combining the hit Finding Nemo, and theatrics. The props that they use are unforgettable.

Here’s just a few additional tips for those staying on Disney property:

  • Don’t forget to use your extra magic hours, especially the evening ones! The wait for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster dropped from 100+ minutes to 40 or less. Thunder Mountain went from 60 minutes to ten. Be sure to have your hotel key on you, though. That’s how they make sure you’re a park guest.
  • If your hotel offers mugs that are free to refill at the resort for every day of your stay, bite the bullet and spend the $15 on the mugs. My family and I calculated it out. By eating lunch and dinner at the resort the first day, and breakfast and lunch at the resort the second day, the mug had already paid for itself, looking at the cost of an individual drink for each meal. Add on the hot chocolate and coffee that we had, and it was well worth the initial cost.
  • Bring two pairs of shoes. This seems little crazy, but if you switch off every day, your feet will be less likely to ache. Trust me, comparing 2011 to 2012 Christmas, all three of us had less achey feet over this past Christmas.
  • Purchase Birnbaum’s Official Guide to Walt Disney World, especially if you have never been there before. It ranks each ride and show, so you can figure out which ones certain members of your party may want to skip, and they also have half day suggestions if you’re traveling with toddlers, because one day is just too much for them. No, I’m not being paid to endorse them, but every year since our very first time vising Disney World, probably fifteen years or so ago, we’ve bought them and they’ve been a huge help.

Be sure to drop by the blog later this week to see what I have to say, much more in depth, about each park!

 

Merry Christmas Eve

24 Dec

Have a wonderful holiday and don’t forget the reason for the season!

New phone, more updates.

5 Dec

Hey, all. I know I’ve struggled to stay updated recently with Take Flight  with school and everything, but I have good news! My old BlackBerry was traded in at the end of my contract and I am now the proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy S3. Therefore I should be able to update on-the-go. The WordPress app didn’t work all too well on my BlackBerry; let’s hope it does better on the Galaxy.

Please Remember: Don’t Give Pets This Holiday Season.

1 Dec

Year after year, pets are given as a Christmas gift because they are “just so cute!” Honestly, who can argue that logic? What people seem to forget is that while your sweet, six year old cousin Claire is begging for a puppy, it won’t be Claire doing all of the work to take care of the puppy. Mommy and daddy have to clean up after it, and pay for the cost of vet bills, food, collars, leashes, dog licenses…the list goes on and on. Another thing that people seem to forget is that puppies don’t stay puppies forever, and kids may lose interest in them once their new furry friend loses its baby face. It is wrong to place an animal in a home just for it to be abandoned a few short months later. A pet is a family member, not a toy that can be tossed away when the child gets tired of it.

Why am I bringing this up? I go to school in an area with a huge population of stray animals, and the number of strays seen around campus always seems to go up around January, February, and March. Why? People don’t want to pay the drop off fee at shelters, so they dump their child’s Christmas gift from Aunt Katie and Uncle Jim. If they didn’t pay to get the pet fixed, this brings up a huge array of problems. In theory, one female dog that is not spayed can produce 67,000 dogs through her and her puppies. Do you see my point? Sixty-seven THOUSAND dogs, when there are already over three million dogs in shelters throughout the United States. Long story short, over one million animals are euthanized in shelters in one month in the United States. Please, think before purchasing an animal as a pet, because if that puppy that Claire wants ends up being dumped on the streets, she could end up starving to death, being picked up by an animal shelter and euthanized in the shelter, hit by a car, or producing thousands of other dogs that would be unwanted.

This breaks my heart to say, because I think every (domesticated) animal deserves a home. The harsh reality needs to be known, though.

What brings this up? My lovely roommate and I came across another stray puppy today (the third in three weeks). Two were males and one was a female…and neither male was fixed. These sweet dogs were all homeless, and the males were able to reproduce and create more homeless dogs (and on another topic entirely, larger dogs can breed with coyotes and create a dangerous mix). Today’s stray was incredibly sweet, and he’d hop right on your lap and give kisses. I like to think positive and say “Okay, he’s pretty clean, and he’s so friendly, there’s no way he was born a stray. Perhaps he could have just slipped his collar” but he may have been dumped if he was too much work for some families. And no animal deserves to be dumped on the streets.

If you would like to know more facts, please visit the Humane Association’s WebPage.

 

Colder Weather

17 Nov
Colder Weather
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